College trip brings mixed emotions

Alva James-Johnson

This past weekend, my family drove to a college campus in Chattanooga, Tenn.

We took about two and a half hours to get there, crammed in a van packed with clothes and an assortment of other items.

It would have been just another family vacation, except this time was different. We were taking my daughter to college, a moment I had 17 years to prepare for, but arrived much too soon.

We drove into Chattanooga early Saturday morning and attended a worship service. From there, we spent the afternoon with relatives who live in the area,  and they reassured us that my daughter would be in good hands in our absence. On Saturday night, we went on campus to begin moving her things into the dorm, and that’s when I began to experience mixed emotions.

On one hand, it was nice being back on a college campus, and I began to recall all the fun I had during my college years. It was a time of personal development and exposure to so many new and exciting things.

And I hope my daughter has the same experience.

Yet, I couldn’t help feeling sad that she was leaving the nest.

I wanted stop the clock and return to a time when she was still a toddler on the verge of taking her first step and needed me close by to catch her. It was a time when she was exploring the world in an environment where I could keep her safe.

Those days are gone, and my daughter doesn’t need me as much as she used to. That was evident as we started unpacking her things.

Every time I made a suggestion, she assured me she could handle it and flexed her newfound confidence.

The truth is, my daughter is more independent now. And that’s a hard pill to swallow after caring for someone for so many years. It’s a part of life I will just have to adjust to now that she’s all grown up.

After Saturday, we spent a couple more days in Chattanooga, shopping for college textbooks and other items. On Tuesday, my husband and I attended parent orientation, and then we got ready to leave.

As we walked down the dormitory hall and out the door, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I tried to be a “big girl” about my baby growing up, but I couldn’t suppress the emotions.

My family joked about me being a big cry baby, and then we walked towards the van.

My daughter saw an old friend, and soon she was distracted.

So, we hugged and went our separate ways.